Life Drawing

Cambridge Life Lines

Life drawing Introduction

Life drawing (drawing the human figure) continues to  play a central role in both my teaching and art practice. I view the attending of life drawing  classes as akin to going to the gym- a technical and creative  workout. During those few hours in front of the human figure I am presented with  an opportunity to practice those all important observational skills; skills acquired through the practice of giving full attention and focus to the subject. In the process I can also explore ideas around line, form, shape and tone. I also have the opportunity to experiment, and become familiar, with a range of media, techniques and technology whilst  enjoying the company of like minded people both models and fellow artists.

I  have regularly attending Life classes and have run,  drawing classes for many years  including running my own evening Life drawing class here in Cambridge  for 10 years.

Drawing the drawers

During  my life drawing sessions  I have often drawn my students as they focus on the model. Their intense concentration and attentiveness has always fascinated me. Life drawing can be an exhausting activity and observing them, as they struggle with their drawing, can be quite revealing.I often witness many emotions;  flashes of frustration, a suggestion of anguish, brows furrowed in disappointment and, at times expressions of wide-eyed elation on those moments when all is going well.

All this emotion! Little wonder when you consider that, as an activity, drawing  the human form, challenges many pre-conceived assumptions about how we understand the human body. It also lays bare, and insists, that you face up to, and address, these limitations in both ones’ understanding and  technical inadequacies. This self critique and examination is necessary if one is to progress and can be a very difficult & humbling experience to undergo.

Alongside the hard work, however, there is also the thrill of the breakthrough. That excitement that comes from the gaining of new insights, and the encouragement provided by witnessing the slow acquiring of knowledge, skill and technical competencies that were not apparent before.

Media; pencil, rubber and a small A6 sketchbook (size approx’)

To kill a Mockingbird. Harper Lee

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee was one of a number of books I read after graduating from art school in the late 1990’s and to which I turned to for inspiration and subject matter for my illustrations/paintings. Like so many others who have read Lee’s, until recently, only novel, I loved the book. It is beautifully written, poignant with a serious and disturbing main storyline which is viewed and told  through the eyes of a child, Scout Finch. Yet it is also funny, and in the inspirational character Atticus Finch (Scout’s father), it has provided me with one of my three literary heroes.

The paintings formed the bulk of my first  exhibition held in Gallery 96 on Kings Street in Cambridge (sadly since closed). I enjoyed taping into the rich visual opportunities provided by the period the story is set that of 1930’s, depression era, Alabama, in America’s south, and I indulged, and mined, freely from the written and visual art of the period, including the works of John Steinbeck, Ben Shahn, Romare Bearden, Dorothea Lange and of course  the movies of 1930’s Hollywood.

All paintings are acrylic on stretched cartridge paper. Series painted 1999.

Advent Panels. Foreshadowing. Series 3

Images created using a process which involves collage use of a flexigon, Photoshop and Ipad app (Snapseed)

Advent panels

For a number of years I have been commisioned by St Pauls Church here in Cambridge, to produce 5 advent images for presentation on each Sunday  service in that season up to and including Christmas day. Each year the vicar, Rev Micheal Beckett, comes up with a serious of themes which he develops in each service with the aid of the accompanying image.

I use these commision to develop ideas around techniques, composition and effective visual story telling. There is always a deadline one that gets smaller and smaller as  Christmas day approaches, due in the main to me spending a lot of time on the first two illustrations leaving very little time for the final three. On average each take around 4 days to complete (on and off) from initial sketching out of ideas  to sending the complete image to the printers. The final images are printed on to foamboard and are A1 in size. They are wrapped up in Christmas wrapping paper. Children are invited to unwrap the image in the service.

I try and do a fair bit of reading around each theme and hope they do the job that is asked of them.

Click on images for more informtion

British birds of prey. Series 2. Buzzards

All images are hand drawn and rendered in Photoshop

Related topics;

1. Introduction

2. What’s your super powers?

3. We are family

4. What’s in a name?

5. Brush up your Shakespeare

6. Know your place

7. Mind your language

8. It’s tough at the top

9. The female of the species.

10. All for One & One for all.

11. The beautiful game

12. Scourge of the Roman empire

13. A legendary tale

14. Explosive tear drop

15. Poetry in motion

16. Friend or Foe

17. Strictly come dancing

18. Keeping a tight grip

Click on images for more informtion on each raptor



My life in Illustration

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